AER special bulletin – 8th edition – Radios and COVID19 – 14 May 2020



State Aid to support the European Economy
The European Commission supported Member States in their support measures for citizens and companies by relaxing its rules with regard to State aid (within the meaning of Article 107 (1) of the TFEU). This support was done through the Temporary Framework for State Aid that was adopted on April 3rd 2020 and amended on May 8th 2020.

The Commission has since approved hundreds of State Aid schemes to support national economies. For example:
o   Approved State Aid in Lithuania and Estonia for support to the cultural sectors;
o   Approved Umbrella Schemes in the United Kingdom, Spain, Slovenia or Poland  to allow for direct grants, equity injections, selective tax advantages or advance payments for SMEs, self-employed or large companies;
Approved State Aid in Denmark to support SMEs with tax deferral in relation to VAT and payroll tax liabilities.

The State aid rules linked to the coronavirus can be found here, and the list of State Aid schemes approved here.

Commissioner Vestager on EU response to COVID-19
On May 4th, 2020, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager exchanged views with the IMCO Committee (Internal Market and Consumer Protection), where she stressed that a EU recovery plan from the COVID-19 crisis would have to embrace the green transition and digital transformation.
Read more here.

Commissioners Gabriel and Breton on EU response to COVID-19 with regards to the Culture and Creative Sectors
On May 4th 2020, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and Commissioner Thierry Breton exchanged views with the CULT Committee (Culture and Education) to discuss the
European Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis with regards to the Culture and Creative Sector (CCS):

Media: The Commission acknowledged the loss of advertising revenues faced by both small and large media actors, and highlighted the role of independent media that is to provide verified sources of information, which therefore should be supported. It outlined its responses to the current crisis:
o   Maintain and strengthen equal competition rules, particularly with regard to platforms;
o   Preserve the budget allocated to Creative Europe;
o   Test financial and innovative solutions, particularly to support the media at local and regional level;
o   Embrace digital technologies to make them great broadcasters of quality European content;
Funding: The Commission stressed that more flexibility in the grant of Creative Europe and its MEDIA strand funds will be granted, and liquidity should be provided to the actors most in need. Funding for the music sector will be allocated through the Music Moves Europe Action and the European Media Landscape programme is to provide with a minimum of €9 million.

MEPs call for EU funds to support the media and creative sectors
On 21st April 2020, CULT Committee MEPs called for EU responses to be adopted to support the media and creative sectors:
o   Support needed for the media and press sectors though emergency funds
o   Make sure EU support reaches culture SMEs, individual creators and charities
o   Create an emergency fund for media, earmark structural funds for culture, and beef up the guarantee instrument

Read more here.

European Parliament President calls on the EU Institutions to set an ambitious recovery plan
On May 6th 2020, MEP David Maria Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, called the EU Institution to ‘be brave on EU recovery plan’. He stressed that the recovery package must be sizeable and add value, all this embedded in a strong MFF. He reminded the EU Institutions that the time was of essence especially for the most vulnerable Europeans.
Read more here.

MEPs call for a green and ambitious recovery plan
ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food safety) MEPs told Commissioner Frans Timmermans on April 21st, 2020 that the EU must remain firm on climate change, with a Green Deal taking a centre stage of EU recovery efforts. They added that an EU Climate Law should move ahead as planned.

Read more here.

Joint Declaration by the EU Ministers for Culture and Media
Following initial discussions on April 8th, the Ministers for Culture and Media from the EU (all Member States but Hungary) published on May 1st, 2020 a joint declaration on culture in times of the COVID-19 crisis, underlining concrete actions taken by the Member States. A first set of national and European measures were launched as a basis for further action to support the recovery of the Culture and Creative Sector:
o   Regularly make an informed assessment of the situation in order to act appropriately;
o   Put forward solution whereby EU-level effort will supplement the national measures today and in a multiannual perspective;
o   Special attention to the flexibility and digital initiatives with the Creative Europe programme;
o   Ensure that the aid provided by EU funds and programmes reaches the culture and creative sectors, and contributes to their recovery.
Read the full Declaration here.
Read more about Culture Ministers’ discussions here.

ERGA reacts to COVID-19 pandemic
The European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA) adopted on April 6th, 2020, communications in which it addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the media sector and the measures taken by Member States, regulators and stakeholders. ERGA underlined the need for measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the media sector and the European Single Market.

Furthermore, it extended the remit of its Subgroup dealing with Disinformation, which will now also gather information on the measures taken by platforms to tackle disinformation related to COVID-19, as well as measures taken by governments and NRAs.

ERGA members (National Regulatory Authorities) also decided to create an ERGA Action Group to exchange experiences and information about the crisis’ implications on the economic conditions for the audiovisual media sector in the Member States.
Read more here and here.

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